Everything You Need To Know About Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

By Lisa St. John, M.S.
Everything You Need To Know About Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Learn all about hyperbaric oxygen therapy and its potential benefits for your health with this comprehensive guide from Bay Area Hyperbarics.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a revolutionary medical treatment that has gained significant recognition for its remarkable ability to promote healing and wellness. HBOT involves breathing pure oxygen inside a pressurized chamber, creating an environment conducive to enhanced healing and cellular regeneration.

This comprehensive guide explores the science behind this treatment, its benefits, and its potential applications. We also address the frequency of HBOT sessions, strategies to maximize outcomes, and how to choose a clinic. Discover the potential of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to transform your well-being.

What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a non-invasive medical treatment that involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber. The FDA has approved this therapeutic modality for treating various medical conditions. These include non-healing wounds, sudden deafness, migraines, sports injuries, and diabetic foot ulcers, to mention just a few.

The increased pressure within the chamber allows the body to absorb significantly more oxygen than under normal conditions. This enhanced oxygenation triggers a cascade of beneficial effects at the cellular level, including:

  • Stimulation and mobilization of stem cells: HBOT promotes the release of stem cells, which can travel to damaged tissues and facilitate repair and regeneration.
  • Down-regulation of inflammatory genes: Oxygen therapy reduces the activity of genes responsible for inflammation, promoting healing and reducing tissue damage.
  • Up-regulation of reproductive cells: HBOT stimulates the production of new cells, promoting tissue growth and repair.
  • Stimulation of DNA synthesis: Oxygen chamber treatment enhances the replication of DNA, which is essential for cellular regeneration and repair.
  • Promotion of angiogenesis: Hyperbaric treatment encourages the formation of new blood vessels, improving blood flow to oxygen-deprived tissues.
  • Stimulation of new cell growth: HBOT promotes the proliferation of healthy cells in various tissues, including the brain, bones, skin, organs, and connective tissue.

How Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Work?

HBOT exposes the body to high oxygen concentrations (100% oxygen) under increased atmospheric pressure. At the heart of the treatment is the hyperbaric chamber. This is a specially designed chamber made of acrylic or steel and designed to withstand high pressures. The pressure within the chamber increases oxygen delivery to all tissues and organs throughout the body.

An HBOT session typically involves the following steps:

  1. Preparation: Patients will be asked to remove any jewelry or metal objects and change into comfortable pajamas.
  2. Entering the chamber: The patient lies on a comfortable bed. The chamber door is then closed and sealed.
  3. Pressurization: The air pressure inside the chamber will gradually increase over 10 to 15 minutes. Patients experience a sensation of fullness in their ears, similar to diving or descending from height in an airplane, as the pressure increases.
  4. Oxygen administration: Once patients reach the desired pressure level, they begin breathing pure oxygen through a mask.
  5. Treatment duration: HBOT sessions typically last from 60 to 90 minutes.
  6. Depressurization: The air pressure inside the chamber is gradually decreased over a period of several minutes. During this time, patients frequently compare the pressure sensation to the 'ear popping' experienced when they take off in an airplane.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a comfortable and non-invasive treatment, and there are very few side effects. Our medical personnel also conduct an exam to make sure patients do not have any contraindications, such as certain pacemakers. 

The Benefits of HBOT

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been shown to have a wide range of applications, including:

  1. Healing Acceleration and Tissue Regeneration: HBOT increases the amount of oxygen in the blood, which can help to promote healing and regenerate tissues. This can be helpful for various conditions, including wounds, ulcers, and burns.
  2. Treating Non-Healing Wounds and Ulcers: HBOT is effective in healing non-healing wounds and ulcers, such as diabetic foot ulcers. This is because HBOT increases the amount of oxygen in the blood, which helps promote tissue growth and healing.
  3. Oxygenating Brain Tissues: HBOT can help improve oxygen flow to the brain, enhancing cognitive function, mental clarity, and brain health. It is effective in reducing cognitive decline, memory loss, and other neurodegenerative conditions.
  4. Improving Cardiovascular Health and Enhancing Blood Flow: HBOT can help to improve blood flow to the heart and other organs. This can be helpful for a variety of conditions, such as hypertension.
  5. Reducing Inflammation and Aiding in Pain Management: HBOT can help to reduce inflammation and alleviate chronic pain. It is effective in reducing pain associated with conditions such as fibromyalgia and migraines.
  6. Enhancing the Immune System: HBOT can help boost the immune system, making it more effective at fighting infections and illnesses.
  7. Radiation Therapy Support: HBOT can reduce the side effects of radiation therapy, such as tissue damage and other complications.
  8. Pre- and Post-Surgery Preparation: HBOT can help prepare the body for surgery by improving overall wellness. Additionally, it can promote healing and speed up recovery after surgery.
  9. Athletic Performance and Recovery: HBOT can improve athletic performance by oxygenating the muscles. It enhances regeneration and repair.
  10. Anti-Aging Therapy: HBOT increases Telomere length and removes senescent cells from the body. Telomere length decreases as we age so that cells can no longer reproduce. These senescent cells then become toxic to surrounding cells. Thus, HBOT prevents cell death, helps reproduce healthy cells, and helps remove dead cells.

Who Can Benefit From Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can benefit a range of individuals, including those with:

  • Non-healing wounds
  • Diabetic foot ulcers
  • Failed skin grafts and flaps
  • Traumatic brain injury/Anoxic brain injury
  • Necrotizing soft tissue infections
  • Sports injuries and strains
  • Autism and neurological disorders
  • Chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia and long-covid

Additionally, HBOT aids in collagen production, skin elasticity improvement, and overall health enhancement. It has also been proven beneficial for those seeking cosmetic benefits.

What Conditions Are Treated With Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

HBOT effectively treats various conditions, from sports injuries to chronic illnesses. Some of the most common conditions treated with HBOT include:


Aging is a natural and inevitable process marked by physiological changes in the body. It leads to a gradual decline in physical and cognitive function. HBOT has been shown to have anti-aging effects by increasing telomere length and clearing senescent cells in aging populations. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment has multiple benefits:

  • It boosts collagen production for skin repair
  • Accelerates healthy gene and stem cell reproduction.
  • Increases blood vessel growth to enhance oxygen supply to muscles, joints, bones, and nerves.
  • Reduces the expression of inflammatory genes.


Autism, a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication, can also benefit from HBOT. At Bay Area Hyperbarics, we have treated dozens of children with autism over the last 25 years. Hyperbaric treatment has helped improve the quality of life of our patients with ASD by:

  • Reducing inflammation in the brain
  • Calming overactive brain regions and stimulating idle neurons
  • Improving sensory and cognitive awareness
  • Improving motor skills
  • Increasing alertness, eye contact, attention span, and language skills
  • Enhancing social skills and human interactions

Concussion and Anoxic Brain Injury

Concussions and anoxic brain injury are forms of traumatic brain injury that can lead to long-term cognitive impairment. HBOT can accelerate healing in the brain by:

  • Improving oxygenation to damaged tissues in the brain
  • Stimulating tissue repair
  • Reducing inflammation in the brain
  • Reactivates quiescent neurons and decreases apoptosis, increasing oxygen and blood flow to idling brain cells
  • Promoting stem cell reproduction and mobilization

Diabetic Wounds and Foot Ulcers

Diabetic wounds and foot ulcers are chronic, non-healing sores that occur on the feet and extremities of people with diabetes. They result from poor circulation, nerve damage, and immune system deficiencies associated with the disease. Such challenges also result in neuropathy, which causes loss of sensation and other symptoms in the extremities.

HBOT is a proven treatment for diabetic wounds, foot ulcers, and neuropathy. By increasing oxygen and blood flow to the affected area, HBOT:

  • Reduces amputation rates
  • Stimulates stem cells to grow and move to where they are needed
  • Increases oxygen to oxygen-starved tissues and veins by 1,200%
  • Speeds up surgical repair
  • Stimulates the growth of veins and capillaries
  • Reduces inflammation

Failing Grafts and Flaps

Failed grafts and flaps happen when transplanted skin or tissue that covers wounds, burns, or surgical sites fails to integrate or survive. This is often due to poor blood supply or infection. HBOT can assist in healing failing grafts and flaps by:

  • Increasing oxygen by 1,200% in oxygen-starved tissues
  • Growing new stem cells and transporting them to heal injured tissue
  • Speeding up surgical repair
  • Improving the survival of damaged tissue
  • Significantly reducing pain and swelling
  • Stimulating the growth of new blood vessels

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. Its symptoms can range from mild flu-like symptoms to severe neurological problems. HBOT with antibiotics helps eliminate Lyme Disease in approximately 7% of cases. It can help eliminate chronic symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, and cognitive issues.

The effects of HBOT on Lyme disease patients include:

  • Killing spirochetes that experts believe cause Lyme disease
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Increasing the efficacy of antibiotics
  • Killing and suppressing bacteria
  • Reducing pain and swelling
  • Reducing migraines and brain fog
  • Improving mental clarity

Migraine Headaches

Migraines are severe, recurring headaches that can cause intense throbbing or pulsing pain, often on one side of the head. They can last for hours and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been shown to help reduce migraine symptoms in many patients by:

  • Opening blood vessels to increase blood supply
  • Decreasing inflammation
  • Building new blood vessels
  • Increasing oxygen carried in blood plasma, enabling more oxygen to reach the brain and body

While a long series of treatments can eliminate recurring migraines, it almost always eliminates active migraines. 

Non-Healing Wounds

Non-healing wounds are chronic sores that take longer than three months to heal. They can result from infections, poor circulation, and injuries. Bay Area Hyperbarics has helped thousands of patients with stubborn and non-healing wounds to recover over the last 25 years.

HBOT helps non-healing wounds by:

  • Reducing pain and swelling
  • Healing ulcers, wounds, and injuries faster
  • Regrowing healthy tissue, skin, and bones
  • Increasing stem cell mobilization and reproduction
  • Killing bacteria and infections
  • Supercharging antibiotics, making them more effective

Osteomyelitis (Bone Infections)

Osteomyelitis is a bone infection caused by bacteria or fungi. This condition can lead to severe pain, tissue death, and permanent damage if left untreated. HBOT is highly effective in treating osteomyelitis by:

  • Killing bacteria and infections
  • Making antibiotics more effective
  • Supercharging bone and tissues with oxygen
  • Increasing blood supply to tissues and bones
  • Regrowing new blood vessels and improving blood flow

Radiation Damage

Radiation therapy, while an effective cancer treatment, can inadvertently lead to collateral damage to healthy tissues. Radiation exposure can adversely affect the bladder, breasts, mouth, and other parts of the body. In these cases, HBOT can be pivotal in the healing process, mitigating the negative effects of radiation injuries.

Hyperbarics can help by:

  • Reducing pain and swelling
  • Building new collagen, skin, and tissues
  • Building new blood vessels
  • Mobilizing stem cells and killing infections
  • Softening fibrous tissue, which often inhibits range of motion
  • Salvaging and revitalizing damaged tissues
  • Healing infections and supercharging antibiotics

Sports Injuries and Athletic Recovery

Sports injuries are common among athletes of all levels, ranging from minor sprains to more severe fractures or tears. HBOT has been used as a safe and effective treatment for sports injuries, helping athletes recover faster and return to the game. At Bay Area Hyperbarics, we treat both amateur and professional football, basketball, and soccer players, as well as MMA fighters, to help them return to their game faster. 

HBOT helps with athletic recovery by:

  • Reducing pain and swelling
  • Mobilizing stem cells
  • Building new blood vessels and blood supply to healthy tissues and bones
  • Building new collagen, skin, and tissues


A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted or severely reduced. Strokes lead to brain cell damage and often permanent disability. Studies show that up to 55% of stroke participants experience significant improvement after HBOT.

HBOT is beneficial in treating strokes by:

  • Reducing pain and swelling
  • Mobilizing stem cells and killing infections
  • Building new blood vessels
  • Increasing blood supply to heal tissues and bones
  • Building new collagen, skin, and tissues

Over the course of 25 years at Bay Area Hyperbarics, we have witnessed remarkable recoveries in stroke patients. Our treatments have significantly improved lives, restoring eyesight, speech, and the ability to climb stairs unassisted.

Sudden Deafness

Sudden deafness is a rapid loss of hearing that can occur over several hours or days. The cause may not always be clear, but is believed to be linked to viral infections or reduced blood flow to the inner ear. According to the National Institute on Deafness, hyperbaric treatment can help patients with sudden hearing loss recover within two weeks. However, it is critical that patients with sudden hearing loss be treated as soon as possible. 

HBOT has been shown to help improve hearing in patients with sudden deafness by: 

  • Regrowing nerve fibers
  • Promoting the growth of new blood vessels
  • Reducing inflammation and swelling in the inner ear
  • Increasing oxygen flow to damaged tissues

At Bay Area Hyperbarics, we have seen significant improvements in patients with sudden deafness after undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Our treatments have helped restore hearing and improve these individuals' overall quality of life.

The previously highlighted conditions and symptoms are some ways HBOT can benefit patients. With its healing properties, HBOT has revolutionized the treatment of various conditions

How Often Should You Do Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

The frequency of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) treatments depends on several factors, including:

  1. Medical Condition: The type of medical condition being treated plays a crucial role in determining the frequency of HBOT sessions. For example, diabetic foot ulcers may require daily sessions, while migraines may benefit from weekly or biweekly treatments.
  2. Severity of the Condition: The severity also influences the frequency of HBOT. Daily or frequent sessions may be necessary to accelerate healing and recovery in acute cases or severe conditions. For milder conditions, weekly or bi-weekly treatments may suffice.
  3. Treatment Goals: The patient's individual treatment goals also guide the frequency of HBOT sessions. For conditions like chronic pain, where symptom management is the primary goal, weekly sessions may be adequate. In contrast, conditions requiring rapid healing or tissue regeneration may benefit from daily or more frequent sessions.
  4. Approved Protocols: The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS), a leading authority in hyperbaric medicine, establishes guidelines for HBOT treatment protocols. These protocols provide recommended frequency ranges for various medical conditions as a starting point for individualized treatment plans.

How To Get the Most Out of Your Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment?

To reap the benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), approaching your treatment with preparation and consistency is essential. Here are some key tips:

  1. Pre-Treatment Preparation: Follow your hyperbaric professional's guidance regarding pre-treatment measures, such as dietary restrictions and medication adjustments.
  2. Comfortable Clothing: Opt for loose-fitting, comfortable cotton clothing that allows easy movement within the hyperbaric chamber. We provide pajamas for you to change into.
  3. Hydration and Rest: Ensure adequate hydration and rest before and after each HBOT session to promote optimal healing and recovery.
  4. Healthy Lifestyle: Maintain a healthy lifestyle by incorporating a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep to support your healing process.
  5. Consistent Treatment: Adhere to the recommended treatment schedule and attend all sessions consistently to maximize the benefits of HBOT. HBOT increases oxygen tension in the body, and research shows that maintaining this increased oxygen tension helps the body heal more rapidly than intermittent treatments. 
  6. Follow-Up Appointments: Attend scheduled follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider to monitor your progress. Talk with our hyperbaric technician and nurse practitioner on-site to evaluate your progress. If you are making progress and need additional treatments to heal fully, we can help you make the request to your primary care physician. 

By following these guidelines, you can enhance the effectiveness of your HBOT treatments and achieve optimal health outcomes.

How To Choose the Right Clinic

Choosing the right HBOT clinic is crucial for maximizing the benefits of this treatment. Here are some key considerations:

  • Medical Expertise: Verify that the clinic adheres to treatment protocols recommended by reputable medical bodies like the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS).
  • Experience: Opt for a clinic with a proven track record in providing HBOT services. Experience ensures familiarity with various conditions and treatment approaches.
  • Equipment and Safety: Ensure the clinic utilizes advanced hyperbaric equipment that meets stringent safety standards, prioritizing patient well-being.
  • Location Convenience: Consider the clinic's location, especially if daily sessions are required. Proximity reduces travel time and enhances treatment adherence.
  • Patient Feedback: Read patient testimonials and reviews to gain insights into the clinic's reputation, patient satisfaction, and treatment experience.

At Bay Area Hyperbarics, we have over 25 years of experience providing hyperbaric treatment for thousands of patients. We adhere to the strict UHMS treatment protocols and prioritize our patients' safety and well-being. Our advanced equipment, convenient location, and positive feedback make us a trusted choice for HBOT in San Jose, CA.

Embrace Healing with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

HBOT has become a popular and effective treatment option for various medical conditions, promoting healing and improving overall health. From chronic pain management to tissue regeneration, HBOT offers numerous benefits that can significantly impact a patient's healing process.

At Bay Area Hyperbarics, we are the longest-running independent hyperbaric clinic in the country. With over 25 years of experience, our woman-owned clinic has successfully treated countless patients with diverse conditions. We're certified by the FDA and Medicare to treat 14 medical conditions.

We are equipped with the highest-quality hyperbaric chambers. Moreover, our staff is committed to quality and safety, guaranteeing that our patients experience the most effective and comfortable treatment possible.

If you, a loved one, or a patient are interested in exploring the benefits of HBOT, contact Bay Area Hyperbarics. We are confident we can help you achieve your health and wellness goals.

Lisa St. John, M.S.
Lisa St. John, M.S.
Clinic Director and Founder

Lisa is our Clinic Director and Founder. She earned her Master’s degree from Harvard University, completed a Fellowship at Stanford University, and has spent the last 30 years working in the healthcare field.

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Everything You Need to Know About Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Learn all about hyperbaric oxygen therapy and its potential benefits for your health with this comprehensive guide from Bay Area Hyperbarics.


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